Bernard Buffet, Orchidées is an original etching made in 1979. This print is signed and numbered from the edition of 120.
Adored by collectors but often derided by critics and contemporaries, French painter and illustrator Bernard Buffet courted controversy from the moment he burst on to the Paris scene in the years following the Second World War. His body of work — a parade of gaunt expressionist figures, tortured depictions of Christ, and bleak still lifes — saw him hailed as the pin-up of the Left Bank. Yet, by the time he took his own life at 71 after a career cut short by Parkinson’s disease, his reputation was chequered with accusations of popularism and conventionality.
During the 1950s and 1960s, as Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism purged representation from the canvas, Buffet’s continued repertoire of expressionist clowns, bullfighters, cityscapes and flagellated Christs were left open to accusations of quaintness, even kitsch. Nevertheless, in Japan, where two museums are dedicated to his work, he remained a giant, and his work is in the collections of both the Tate and the Pompidou Centre.